Letter on Humanism

But metaphysics recognizes the clearing of Being either solely as the view of what is present in "outward appearance" (idea) or critically as what is seen as a result of categorial representation on the part of subjectivity. This means that the truth of Being as the clearing itself remains concealed for metaphysics. However, this concealment is not a defect of metaphysics but a treasure withheld from it yet held before it, the treasure of its own proper wealth. But the clearing itself is Being. Within the destiny of Being in metaphysics the clearing first affords a view by which what is present comes into touch with man, who is present to it, so that man himself can in apprehending (noein) first touch upon Being (thigein, Aristotle, Met. IX, 10). This view first gathers the aspect to itself. It yields to such aspects when apprehending has become a setting-forth-before-itself in the perceptio of the res cogitans taken as the subiectum of certitudo.

But how—provided we really ought to ask such a question at all— how does Being relate to ek-sistence? Being itself is the relation to the extent that It, as the location of the truth of Being amid beings, gathers to itself and embraces ek-sistence in its existential, that is, ecstatic, essence. Because man as the one who ek-sists comes to stand in this relation that Being destines for itself, in that he ecstatically sustains it, that is, in care takes it upon himself, he at first fails to recognize the nearest and attaches himself to the next nearest. He even thinks that this is the nearest. But nearer than the nearest and at the same time for ordinary thinking farther than the farthest is nearness itself: the truth of Being.

Forgetting the truth of Being in favor of the pressing throng of beings unthought in their essence is what ensnarement [Verfallen] means in Being and Time.* This word does not signify the Fall of

* In Being and Time (see esp. sections 25-27, 38, and 68 C) Verfallen, literally a "falling" or "lapsing," serves as a third constitutive moment of being-in-the-world. Dasein is potentiality for Being, directed toward a future in which it can realize its possibilities: this is its "existentiality." But existence is always "thrown" out of a past that determines its trajectory: this is its "facticity." Meanwhile, Dasein usually busies itself in quotidian affairs, losing itself in the present, forgetting what is most its own: this is its Verfallensein. (The last-named is not simply a matter of "everyday" dealings, however, since the tendency to let theoretical problems slip into the ready-made solutions of a tradition affects interpretation itself.) To forget what is most its own is what Heidegger means by Uneigentlichkeit, usually rendered as "inauthenticity" but perhaps better understood as "inappropriateness."--ED.

Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Letter on Humanism - Basic Writings (1993)